Thursday night, I will be going to a special screening of the new movie G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra. You probably already know that I have been a big fan of G.I.Joe for most of my life.
Most of my readers should be familiar with the premise of G.I.Joe. A group of specially trained soldiers fight an evil terrorist group named Cobra. Both sides had exotic characters, elaborate weapons (which despite their impressive appearance never seemed to hit anything), and futuristic vehicles.
I’m not entirely sure when I started liking G.I.Joe as a child. I remember my friend Lonny collected the G.I.Joe comics produced by Marvel Comics, so I would often read them, and began to follow the story. Eventually, I started collecting them too, beginning with the first issue I purchased – Issue #15: Red Eye to Miami. I continued reading the comic pretty much throughout the entire run, even going as far as to memorize the titles of issues 1 through 100 (Feel free to quiz me sometime). In the last decade, other comic companies have brought back a G.I.Joe series, but I was never really able to get into them.
It must have been the summer of 1983 when I obtained my first Joe action figure. I was with my mother at the Acme supermarket in Exton, PA and when we stopped in the toy aisle, I picked out Breaker – the Joe communications officer. I’m not sure why I settled on Breaker. Maybe because he worked with computers, and as a child I was big into computers too?
I believe my next Joe toy, received as a birthday present, was the MOBAT tank which used batteries and was actually motorized, so that it would move on its own. Obviously, this was a pretty cool toy to receive. From there on, my collection continued to grow. Every birthday and Chanukkah, my gift list would be loaded with a bunch of Joe toys (as well as the Transformers)
Adding to the love of G.I.Joe was the cartoon series. The cartoon debuted as a mini-series in 1983. I was a bit upset that it was only a mini-series, and not a regular show. However, the next year, the Joes returned with another mini-series. Finally, the following year, G.I.Joe was made into a regular series that was shown in the afternoon Monday through Friday. Every afternoon, I would dilligently watch the Transformers at 4, and the Joes at 4:30.
I’m guessing that the show helped encourage many kids to join the military. After all, G.I.Joe made the military look like fun! You got to dress up in fun outfits, hang out with cool characters (including talking animals), visit exotic locales, and best of all, nobody got hurt! After all, if your plane (or helicopter, or even hang glider) got shot down, you’d simply parachute to safety. And if a missile was shot at your tank, you’d always have plenty of time to jump clear to safety.
Plus, instead of real life terrorists like Al Qaida, Cobra was kind of fun. They didn’t do things like crash planes into buildings, they preferred more elaborate plots like kidnapping scientists or building devices that could control the weather. And while Osama Bin Laden may be an evil mastermind, the Cobra leaders were almost kind of fun. You had the incompetent Cobra Commander, the metal mask wearing Destro, and of course Zartan, the master of disguise. They also had a ninja in their employ, and everyone knows that ninjas make everything cooler!
And of course, the show was educational too. After each episode, you’d get a special life lesson taught by one of the Joes. “Now we know. And knowing is half the battle!” What more could you ask for?
So will the movie be any good? Who knows? It appears to have taken elements from both the comic and the TV show. From the previews and commercials, the producers seem to understand that this is based on a toy, and have treated it as such. That’s fine, as long as it isn’t too completely mindless like Transformers. Either way, I’m definitely looking forward to it.